A day after NewsMobile reported that interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi may step down, Sonia has told her party leaders at the crucial virtual CWC meet that is presently underway that she would like to resign from her post.
She has also asked the party to begin the process of looking for a non-Gandhi President. Fearing a possible video leak of the meeting, the meet is being hosted on CISCO Webex platform.
Sonia’s decision to step down was read out from a statement by at the start of the meeting by party leader K C Venugopal. The crucial CWC meeting is being held a day after a ‘letter bomb’ hit the party calling for a complete overhaul and a “full-time, visible leadership” at the helm of affairs of the Congress. The letter was signed by 23 senior leaders of the party.
However, former has Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has requested Sonia to continue as the Congress President.
Sonia had reportedly conveyed her decision to her close aides within the party after the letter signed by senior leaders became public. In the letter, the leaders called for sweeping reforms, introspection and “a full-time, visible leadership”. Signatories of the letter had also said that the Gandhis, who have led the party for most of its 134-year history, can remain an “integral part of a collective leadership”.
Speaking at the meet, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi slammed those who had signed the letter and questioned the timing of the letter. Accusing some leaders within the party of being in cahoots with the BJP, Rahul asked what was the purpose of sending the letter now when Sonia is not keeping well.
The letter, dated August 7, which sparked off this massive row was signed by by senior leaders including Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prithviraj Chavan, Vivek Tankha and Anand Sharma. They called for a “full-time”, “effective leadership” that will be “visible” and “active” in the field, as per sources. They also called for “honest introspection” and suggested a “collective leadership”, reforms including decentralization of power, empowerment of state units and party organizational elections at all levels.
The leaders had also pointed to “uncertainty” over the leadership and the “drift” in the party and said in the letter that it had demoralised workers and weakened the Congress party.
73-year-old Sonia Gandhi took charge as the interim President of the grand old party after Rahul Gandhi stepped down following the party’s humiliating defeat in the general elections.
From Jyotiraditya Scindia’s exit to the recent Sachin Pilot-Ashok Gehlot power struggle, the Congress party has hit upon a bumpy patch more often than not. Party loyalist Sanjay Jha who was recently shown the door says the problem lies with the party leadership becoming completely alienated from the leaders and the complete shift in ideology from what Congress used to be earlier.
The letter however seems to have split the party wide open. While 23 senior leaders called for a complete overhaul, Gandhi family loyalists are smelling a conspiracy and questioning the timing of the ‘leak’ of the letter.
Leaders like Amarinder Singh, Bhupesh Baghel, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Siddaramaiah had come out in full support of the Gandhis. “Sonia Gandhi should continue as long as she wants; Rahul Gandhi should take over after her as he is fully competent,” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Sunday evening.
He also said, “The move by these Congress leaders to demand a rehaul of the party at this critical juncture would be detrimental to its interests, and the interests of the nation.”
Meanwhile, senior leader AK Antony, who described the contents of the letter as cruel, asked Rahul to take over as chief. Earlier, Indian Youth Congress passed a resolution in support of Rahul as the new Congress chief.
IYC National President Shri @srinivasiyc echoes the appeal of every Youth Congress member in requesting the leadership to pass the resolution to make Shri @RahulGandhi the next President of the Congress party.#MyLeaderRahulGandhi pic.twitter.com/NYgYyglCQ2
— Youth Congress (@IYC) August 23, 2020
Sachin Pilot also threw his weight behind the Gandhis. “Mrs Gandhi and Rahul ji have shown what it means to sacrifice for the greater good of the people and the party. Its now time to build consensus and consolidate. Our future is stronger when we’re united. Most Congress workers would like to see Rahul ji take over and lead the party,” he tweeted.
Mrs Gandhi and Rahul ji have shown what it means to sacrifice for the greater good of the people and the party.Its now time to build consensus and consolidate.
Our future is stronger when we’re united. Most Congress workers would like to see Rahul ji take over and lead the party
— Sachin Pilot (@SachinPilot) August 23, 2020
Shashi Tharoor meanwhile on Sunday tweeted a quote by Jawaharlal Nehru that read, “Without passion and urge, there is a gradual oozing out of hope and vitality, a settling down on lower levels of existence, a slow merging into non-existence. We have become prisoners of the past and some part of its immobility sticks to us”.
‘Without passion and urge, there is a gradual oozing out of hope and vitality, a settling down on lower levels of existence, a slow merging into non-existence. We have become prisoners of the past and some part of its immobility sticks to us’. ~ Jawaharlal Nehru
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 23, 2020
CWC is the highest decision-making body of the Congress. All permanent and special invitees to the CWC have been invited to the meeting.
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